Assignment: Write Solstice reflection. Result: NOT SOLSTICE REFLECTION.
Brain: Okay. We will write “YAAAAYYYY DARKNESS!”.
Me: No, we will write a celebration of that we are finally headed back for summer. Like we were asked to write.
Brain: Whatever. We so are NOT headed back for summer and you know it. We’re headed for the Winter Of Our Greatest Discontent. January is for disappointed New Years Reso-delu-sions, and for credit card debt from Christmas. Everyone knows that Farch is the worst two months of the year because it’s freaking freezing, and Christmas is never NEARLY as magical in the rear view mirror (or on the credit card statement). Then there is Valentine’s day, which everyone hates. Valentine’s day always sucks for one of two reasons: a) you don’t get the fairy tale as advertised because you are single, or b) you don’t get the fairy tale as advertised because you are not single, which means you are dating someone who is a human being and not a fairy tale. After Farch, there is April, which always begins with “yay-finally-spring” and ends with “haha it’s so cute how EVERY YEAR you are surprised by Second Winter”. And all this cold will be worse because it will happen in the harshness of growing light is bright-but-not-warm so now you are freezing but you can't even sit in the cozy-fireside-surrounded-by-dark that you love so much.
Me: When writing for religious services, there is kind of a sweet spot in terms of appropriate-amount-of-honesty. You are not hitting it.
Brain: I am hitting it fine.
Me: I am going to tell them we don’t need a reflection this year, and instead we should just read that Mary Oliver poem about geese.
Brain: Geese are deadly.
Me: So is pessimism.
Brain: I am not being pessimistic, I am being realistic.
Me: “I am being realistic” is the pessimist slogan.
Brain: I am just saying that the point of solstice, in my mind, is not the turn to the light. The point of solstice is to love the dark. The moment you’re in.
Me: Un huh.
Brain: It’s like how last year you realized about depression. About your depression, anyway. How sharp the pain is when it arrives—like the cold air stinging your face on contact, and for a second you can only think about the stinging. But you stand there and you breathe deep, and after a minute you remember how to move again.
Me: Because there’s no other option.
Brain: Because there’s no other option. But still, you find that the cold… cleans you, somehow. It brings you back to the basics of your body, helps you remember what’s most valuable. Depression is not always as simple as painful-broken. Sometimes it’s painful-resting, or painful-growing. Or painful-remembering-what-matters. There is something about earning happiness back drop by drop. Every piece you earn gets savoured on your tongue like fine chocolate. It... sharpens your perspective.
Me: Depression lies.
Brain: Yes, but it doesn't only lie. It’s like the darkness. When you are out at night and you think you are being followed by zombie rapists but then you realize it's probably just a jogger and then you realize that the zombie-rapist-jogger isn't even jogging. And. then someone comes out of a house and lifts the lid of the zombie-rapist-jogger and tosses a bag of trash in there and you realize there is a zombie-rapist-jogger standing motionless in front of every house and that's how you know it's time to go roll your own bin out to the curb. Lies and also helpful direction. Darkness is when you can see the North Star. And you can only feel certain things in the dark, too... That’s why you treasure the long nights so much when you can wake up in the wee hours and sit by the morning fire with sweet almond tea and gaze at the coloured lights on the tree. I'm just saying. You don't hate the dark as much as you think.
Maybe, we reach for the light too quickly.
Maybe, we should check to see which dark we are sitting in. I am not saying that there are not some darknesses that are toxic midnight soup, and some depressions that are nothing but torturous lying imbalances of chemicals... but no part of being human is always one way or the other.
If it was up to me, solstice would not be about the-sun-is-coming-back. The sun does not need us to reach for it, it will come back just fine on it's own schedule. And we don't need us to reach for it, either.
I think maybe what we actually need is to be more... awake. More aware of the sweetness you find in the dark.
How much better tea tastes on dark mornings. The joy of candles--which only ever seem to know their own magic fully when they are circled by shadows. The way night pulls us together into the circle of one anothers’ warmth. Rest. Staying home, reading, playing cards together.
Love. Especially love.
There's a kind of love you find snuggled in against the cold that you just won't find during the sunny-beach-days of summer. It's like candles in the dark, I think.
Love is strongest when it’s snowing.
Born Again--by Lynn Ungar
Let’s be clear about this:
It isn’t the same as being sick
and getting better. It isn’t
changing your mind at the last minute
or pushing away from the brink.
The only way to be born again
is to die. The Phoenix doesn’t just
go up in a blaze of glory. It
feels the fire lick up and sizzle
every feather, until each quill becomes
a column of flame carried straight to the core.
Whatever the legend of re-birth, there is always
time in the fire, under the ground,
hanging on the cross or the tree.
Don’t skip over that part of the story.
If you would be reborn, you have to die.
But what then? After the dying
how are we to rise again into new life?
The earth, the hero, the god, you and I—
how does any of us find our way back
from the Valley of the Shadow?
The same way we die:
Walk into the light.
By Lynn Ungar 12/2016. (That's Dec 2016, which means it was either a pre-solstice poem or a post-Trump-election-poem, and Lynn will not say which).
Note: If you have not read Lynn's poems, then WTF ARE YOU WASTING TIME ON MY BLOG FOR because Lynn is the real deal of poetry. Like Mary Oliver but without the need to fear goose attacks. My favourite is this one, which is my own personal spiritual-road-rash-first-aid, but you can find a whole whack of them at www.lynnungar.com.
ONCE YOU ARE DONE THAT, if you want to read more from my blog, you might like:
Or, if you are less despair oriented and more holiday, oriented, perhaps this post, in which I ruin Christmas. Because only ruining solstice would be inadequate, of course.